Notice of Street Processions

Part of Nottinghamshire County Council Bill [Lords] (By Order) – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 13th February 1983.

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Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Oxon Mid 7:45 pm, 13th February 1983

It may be that at the end of the day the House will decide in favour of a national provision. But we are a long way from that stage and there is no reason why the House should not decide that Nottinghamshire, like other counties which have gone before it in this respect, is entitled to this clause. That is a matter for the House to decide. From the Government's point of view there is no national reason why the House should take a different view or should decide to hold up this measure or to vote against it.

I should take this opportunity to comment briefly on the two amendments grouped with this one. Subsection (4) would be omitted by amendment No. 5. We should welcome the intention of the subsection as it stands, which is to encourage co-operation between the organisers of processions and the police. The subsection has precedents in four recent local Acts. A chief constable does not need statutory authority to issue guidance to the organisers of processions, so, from the Government's point of view, the subsection is agreeable but not absolutely necessary.

Amendment No. 6 would impose a duty on my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary — not perhaps a very onerous one but one on which I should comment. The new subsection requires the chief constable to forward a copy of his code of practice to the Home Secretary, and my right hon. and learned Friend would be obliged to lay copies of the code before each House of Parliament.

That is neither necessary nor desirable. It is not necessary if its purpose is to publicise the code, since clause 6(4) already obliges the chief constable to issue that. The provision is undesirable because it would give a misleading impression that the code and any amendments to it have been endorsed by the Home Secretary, whereas he would have had no part in the drafting. For those two reasons—that it is unnecessary and that a somewhat confusing, misleading impression would be given—the amendment is undesirable.